First Person View Drone racing, or simply FPV, is a new breed of competition that puts the driver in the cockpit of a high-speed drone and in the path of fierce competitors. This is the closest thing the average person can get to flying without a course in aeronautics.
Furthermore, the arrangement is fairly simplistic. All that is required is a specially designed video transmitter and camera attached on board your drone, typically a quadcopter. The video is then transmitted to a ground station. The pilot at the ground station will use a screen or set of flight goggles to navigate the drone through a FPV.
In a competitive event, a pilot will use the FPV to maneuver a specially designed race course. These can be performed in a time trial event, head to head competition of even rally with many competitors looking to take home the checkered flag.
Essential FPV Equipment Any Pilot Will Need
Entering a competition is not as hard as you might think and your local area probably has many events happening right now. If you are seriously thinking of making your name as serious FPV racer you will need the basic gear to join the starting line. Here is what you will need to compete in FPV racing:
Wireless Video Transmitter — your typical FPV video transmitter will operate at 5.8 ghz. The maximum legal output for this frequency is 25 mW and this can be found in many first rate FPV transmitters. The signals you will be sending and receiving will play a huge role in your efficiency as a pilot. It would probably be a good idea to upgrade the shielded antenna that comes with the transmitter to a high-performance patch or cloverleaf antenna. These modifications increase range and performance.
FPV Goggles — While the video feed from the drone in flight can be sent to a conventional display screen using an internal or external receiver, but there are some advantages to using the FPV goggle option. Some external receivers, like the Helistar AV receiver can be directly connected to an external screen through the AV connection. Then some of the other brands offer external screens with built in receivers.
Racing Camera — there are many options for selection now that cameras have gotten smaller and lighter. The most important feature of the flight camera is a wide field of vision that allows for greater maneuverability. Many of the dedicated FPV cameras are sadly inefficient here and can cause tunnel vision. Repurposed cameras from surveillance operations have been the most successful option for their wide view and capacity to adapt to light and dark fluctuations quickly.
As far as the FPV aspect of the racing is concerned, these three components will cover all your needs. Of course, you will need a drone to carry them around the race course. Pilots have a variety of options when it comes to selecting aircraft.
RTF Options — Ready to Fly Drones come with everything you will need from the drone to all the FPV equipment. You will be limited to what you find in the package deal, but this is the fastest way to get your set together and hit the races.
BAF — Bind and Fly means you get the drone setup for FPV racing except it lacks the set of FPV components. Other than this, the drone is ready to fly. This is the best choice for experienced racers with their own specific components.
ARF – Almost Ready to Fly packages come with a drone that needs some assembly. They aren’t equipped with FPV functions. These are a good option for pilots looking to customize a specific drone design.
KIT — finally, pilots can buy a drone and FPV equipment in DIY kits. This is not only a good option for the experienced pilot looking to squeeze every ounce of performance from their drone, but for intermediate pilots looking to explore the wonders of drone flight.
My Two Cents
If you’re questioning getting into the sport, I have simply one suggestion: DO IT. It is such a young sport and the sky is literally the limit for how big this will get. In the last 5 years we’ve seen it balloon from a niche to a bona-fide phenomenon, and if the drone market growth is any indicator, the sport-side of the business will only continue to grow.
Keep it up! Al